Major Robert F. Burns

90th Division, U.S. Army

 

War Letters from Europe

Normandy to Germany

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Letters from France

June 22, 1944
June 29, 1944
June 29, 1944 (2nd)
July 6, 1944
July 17, 1944
August 10, 1944
August 14, 1944
August 25, 1944
September 1, 1944
September 2, 1944
September 3, 1944
September 3, 1944 (2nd)
September 14, 1944
September 16, 1944
September 16, 1944 (2nd)
September 17, 1944
September 28, 1944
October 2, 1944
October 14, 1944
October 22, 1944
November 2, 1944
November 12, 1944
November 24, 1944
December 2, 1944
December 27, 1944

Letters from Luxembourg

January 9, 1945
January 16, 1945
January 20, 1945

Letter from Belgium

February 7, 1945

Letters from Germany

February 9, 1945
February 21, 1945
February 23, 1945
February 26, 1945
April 5, 1945
May 5, 1945

Letters from Czechoslovakia

May 10, 1945
May 16, 1945

Letters from Germany

May 19, 1945
May 20, 1945
May 24, 1945
June 3, 1945
June 22, 1945

Letters from France

June 30, 1945
July 3, 1945

Letters from Germany

July 14, 1945
July 27, 1945
July 30, 1945
August 3, 1945
August 14, 1945

Letters from France

August 26, 1945
August 28, 1945
August 29, 1945

Letters from Germany

September 9, 1945
September 11, 1945
September 13, 1945
September 15, 1945
September 17, 1945
September 23, 1945
September 27, 1945
October 1, 1945
October 9, 1945

Letters from France

October 13, 1945
October 15, 1945
October 22, 1945
November 5, 1945
November 17, 1945
November 17, 1945 (2nd)
November 23, 1945
November 30, 1945
December 17, 1945
December 17, 1945 (2nd)
December 18, 1945
December 26, 1945
January 2, 1946

Letters from Belgium

January 14, 1946
January 15, 1946
January 17, 1946
January 17, 1946 (2nd)

Letters from France

January 21, 1946
January 24, 1946

Paris, France

November 5, 1945

Dear Mom,

Last week was a big week for mail. Your letters from Oct. 22, 24, and 25, Gracie's letter from the 24th, Pop's letter and mail post of 20 Oct and three Christmas packages all arrived. Many thanks for all.

Your mail has been coming through very regularly of late in about six days. For about three weeks all air mail from here went by boat which is why you got my letters from the hospital so late. I wrote three or four from there. Don't exactly remember. However, airmail is back in service so you should be getting mine regularly again. I didn't write last week so don't look for one from then.

One of the Christmas packages is signed from Marn, one from Grace, and one, which looks like fruit cake, from you. I haven't opened them as yet and won't for a while. The brushes haven't arrived but, as they probably came by boat, it's very likely too soon.

I've started painting at last. This is a self-portrait just to get my hand back in. Looks more as if I put my foot in it! From which you may judge it's not going too well. I'm certainly out of form.

Like many others I've practically discontinued going to the Ecole des Beaux Arts. The bedlam is too much. Moreover, several students lost their jackets, gloves and cap while in class. We formed one class of just American students in the afternoon but it's rather erratic. I don't attend this now because they're working from the model which I can do at home. While the weather is still good I'm working out-of-doors on drawings as I want to get here things which I can't duplicate in the U.S. I can always work from the model there. The portrait which I do at home is more of an exercise that a painting. Later I want to do some landscapes.

Beginning last week all military personnel had to have tickets for the subway. Before it was free. However, we get four free tickets a day issued to us. Since I do a lot of chasing around I find myself buying many too. The cost varies from 4cents to 8 cents a ride depending on where you go. This is 2d class rate. 1st class is about 2 cents more. What the difference is supposed to be I can't say. Theoretically, the 1st class car (which is like all the others but painted red outside instead of green) should be less crowded and sometimes it is. But most of the time it is packed full with many people a good share of whom are second class riders. To catch these people, the subway sends a ticket puncher through this car at irregular intervals. Those unlucky birds with 2d class tickets have to buy another ticket.

The subway is a little better than it was. More stations are open and they are beginning to unseal the air vents which were cemented up for bomb shelters. But they're still jammed with people and all trains are locals. I think I told you before that trains now run until 1:10 am which makes it better if you go to a movie downtown.

I keep forgetting to tell you of another singular feature of French subways. This is the automatic door which closes as the train comes in and keeps people from pouring onto the usually packed platform. Those lucky individuals already through can mount the train. The rest cool their heels until it pulls out and the door opens. This prevents many of the jams I saw on New York subways.

Speaking of movies, I saw last night an excellent one - an English film in Technicolor- "Four White Feathers."

But the prize was last Saturday night. Imagine going to Paris for a Sat nite western! This one was Bill Boyd as Hopalong Cassidy with everyone speaking French. It looked twenty years old but the old bang! bang! formula was all there.

The French are very profligate with other people's time. For most civilian shows it is necessary to wait from 45 minutes to an hour and a half. Part of this is due to their peculiar system of ticket selling. You can't buy a ticket right off as at home and then wait in line. Here you wait first and then after the theater opens or if between shows after all the people in the first "seance," as it is called, have left the theater, the ticket sale begins. It takes another 20 to 30 minutes to sell the tickets and get everybody seated inside. (And if the show is crowded, which it always is, they think nothing of charging you full price - in some instances 60 francs or about $1.25 a seat-and putting you on the floor in the aisle.)

The show opens with a newsreel. It's the same for all theaters. If you see many shows in a week as I have, you get pretty sick of it. Following the newsreel is a comedy or short feature. All this takes perhaps 30 minutes. Then comes the inexplicable "entre act" of which I have written before. I still don't know what the purpose of this is unless it is to sell some very dubious candy at 40 cents a piece about the size of a peppermint. Perhaps it's to allow people to go to the toilet after standing in line an hour and a half. Anyhow, this averages 15 minutes and is frequently interspersed with advertisements on the screen with all the house lights blazing. Finally the feature picture arrives. An hour of this and you fight your way out and home.

I was glad to hear of Joe Lander's promotion. What is his address now? I don't have it.

Incidentally, if I am to send Christmas cards to people I'll need some addresses. I've lost all mine. Haven't seen cards but in one store and they were bad. Perhaps there will be some out soon.

I still have the high neck sweater but have to get it washed. It's quite dirty from last year. So far I haven't needed it though it's getting quite cold now. The last few days have been gray and wintry and rather disagreeable. I have some wool undershirts to put on a little later.

My eye seems fine now. Hasn't given any bother.

Sorry I got you confused on the dates of those two letters regarding the brushes and coffee. Both should have been dated October not September.

I borrowed a camera here and have been taking some pictures with the rest of the film Marn sent. So far I haven't received any prints back. The stuff sure is high here. At the Army Post exchange it costs 15 cents a roll for development and 5 cents a print for 120 size film. They say it takes 10 days but I've waited now over two weeks for the pictures I sent in. At the French civilian shops it costs 20 cents a print for size 120. Time element is only a week, however. Since I'll have access to a camera you can send some more 120 film, if you will.

Love,

Bob

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